Penn State-Notre Dame: Jimmy Clausen's Big Test in Happy Valley

Ryan MooreCorrespondent ISeptember 5, 2007 Saturday night at 6:00 PM, the #14 Penn State Nittany Lions (1-0) will take the field against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in front of 108,000+ fans at Beaver Stadium.

Last season, the Nittany Lions got slammed by the Fighting Irish, 41-17.

In 2007, Penn State seems more than ready to get revenge—especially following a 59-0 win against FIU last week.

PSU is also playing at home, where they beat ND 35-13 in 1991. The 20,000+ screaming students will no doubt seem like a 12th defender to freshmen ND QB Jimmy Clausen.

The future is now for the Clausen, and Happy Valley will make for a tough proving ground.

Penn State's solid defense will be looking to shut out the opposing offense for the second straight week. It can be done against a weak Notre Dame O that only scored three points against Georgia Tech last Saturday.

Preseason All-American LB Dan Connor and Week One Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week LB Sean Lee will both be looking to plug the run and hound Clausen.

QB Anthony Morelli led the PSU offense last weekend by completing 23 of 38 passes for 295 yards, three TDs, and no INTs. Look for Morelli and the very talented Nittany Lion WR corps to air it out again this Saturday.

If the ND secondary proves resilient, senior RB Austin Scott will have to step up and run the ball like he did during his freshmen year. Scott had 46 yards on 11 carries last week with two TDs. Also watch out for backups Royster and Kinlaw, who proved to be dangerous last week by outgaining Scott and scoring a TD apiece.

The spread favors Penn State by 16 points, but the game could still be a close one— especially in a matchup of two storied programs.

ND will be looking to play a much better game than they did against GA Tech. The Fighting Irish have talent and are capable of scoring against PSU, but I don't like their chances in the opener at Happy Valley, or against a rival looking to key on a young QB.

My prediction:

Penn State: 28

Notre Dame: 7

It will be a hard fought game on both sides of the ball, but look for Penn State's offense to take advantage of the field position provided by the defense.